It is no secret that my favourite Horus Heresy era army book is the Crusade Imperialis, covering the lists for Solar Auxilia, Imperial Militia & Cultists and the Questoris Knight Houses:
I keep dabbling with Legion forces: I toyed with painting Sons of Horus and Blood Angels before abandoning those projects until the release of Betrayal at Calth which gave me the impetus to make a small force of Alpha Legion (for Zone Mortalis) and Word Bearers (for Dark Compliance themed games when combined with my Warp Cultists). I have had the most successful run of sustained hobby interest with my Iron Warriors based on the Burning of Prospero set. Since the colour scheme is simple and quick enough to do that, I could probably turn this into a viable full size army with the addition of a few tanks if I did a better job of keeping my hobby magpie tendencies in check.
The problem I have is that when I keep list building around Legion forces, I can’t quite find anything which strikes me as sufficiently different in play style from the common combined arms/all comers builds I see at events: Spartan Tank, Primarch/Praetor with bodyguard unit of Legion Terminators, Tactical or Veteran Marines, Rhinos, Sicaran Battle Tank, Dreadnought (often Leviathan or Mortis Contemptor) and then a dash of Legion specific unit and a Lord of War Choice to complement. I’m missing the opportunity to model something a bit more personal or unique looking with a bit of freeform kitbashing, so I’m drawn back to looking at what can be done with the Imperial Milita army list.
I really wanted to do something with a different flavour from my Warp Cult list: a bit more elite and less infantry heavy, with more of a shooty focus (especially given the Warp cult has no real infantry shooting). I’m still pretty wedded to doing a force which will be thematically Traitor aligned, but not quite so obviously corrupt as the Warp Cult are. That way, the new milita force be used as Loyalists if needed (say if I attended an event and they needed to even up the numbers on each side, or if I have a friend over and need to loan them an army to play again one of my other forces).
With this in mind and flipping through the various combinations of the Provenances rules, there are three that stood out to me with this in mind: Alchem-jackers, Cyber-augmentics and Survivor of the Dark Age.
Alchem-jackers represents a force willing to undergo extreme measures in order to ensure combat readiness such as routinely administering combat chem-injectors or stim-inhalers. In game terms, this provides some essential buff to the Militia infantry morale – they do not suffer negative modifiers to leadership in the assault phase and during shooting phase if they fail a morale check from casualties they are pinned rather than falling back. This would seem a solid all round buff: not quite as good as the zealot rule conferred by the Cult Horde provenance, but with none of the downsides with having degraded shooting and mandatory charging into close assault. It also unlocks the option up purchasing a ‘Frenzon’ upgrade conferring Rage in assault.
Cyber-augmentics represents troops with cybernetic implants either to improve combat readiness or survive hostile environments. In game terms, it confers a 6+ invulnerable save for infantry with no invulnerable save or increases the save by +1 for those which already do. It also makes your force sworn brothers with Mechanicum allies. There is however, a -1 penalty to run and sweeping advance rolls. I like the flavour of this aesthetically and it does offer the chance to be able to buff the invulnerable saves of a few of the HQ and squad sergeants to a point that they have a reasonable chance to cause a few upsets by unexpectedly tanking high strength/low AP attacks. Another plus is that thematically this makes them more fitting allies for my Dark Mechanicum Knights.
Survivors of the Dark Age represents a force with technologically advanced weapons and armour dating back to the Dark Age of Technology. Although it is the most expensive provenance option, it is one of the most obviously potent, improving the standard armour save of all infantry by one. Effectively this means that Grenadiers are improvement to Marine levels of resilience (3+ save) and even the humble Militia troop (4+ save) moves into having much needed resistance to bolter fire. There is a prohibition in combining this option with both the Cult Horde and Tainted Flesh provenances and this option converts Grenadiers into a compulsory troops choice and Levy squads also gain the support special rule. Again, this seems like a good option to thematically link to my Dark Mechanicum allies. Milita shooting is pretty poor, but this provenance also grants the option of upgrading las-weaponry by +1S for a 20pt upgrade on the Grenadier and Command Platoons.
Since you can only select and purchase two provenances with your Force Commander, I think I like the idea of building a core force around Survivors of the Dark Age and then mixing up the force composition and play style by trying out it in combination of either Alchem-jackers or Cyber-augmentics depending on my mood. To tie them into my other forces, I skimmed through the background of my current forces looking for inspiration until I got to House Atrax, reminding myself that they were indentured vassals of the Forgeworld of Cyclothrathe – so a force of ‘Forge Thrall Militia’ seemed like a good narrative and aesthetic hook to aim for and so I set about rummaging through my bits box for suitable pieces to build some test figures and here is what I cam up with from my test pieces:
There were built from a mix of Tempestus Scion torso and weapons, combined with the Skitarii legs:
There were build from the Skitarri hooded heads and short rifles combined with the fantasy Empire Flagellants, now known as as Age of Sigmar Flagellants: